05/02/2009

Hooked on chain maille

I've loved chain maille for a long time but it wasn't till recently that I really set out to learn how to make it.
I love the way metal can feel as soft and flexible as fabric and how you can make such elaborate designs using nothing but little jump rings.
The very first time I tried to make byzantine chain I didn't realize you needed a specific ring diameter for a specific wire gauge, so that attempt didn't turn out so great. The rings were too big and so they wouldn't stay in place when you bent them backwards. This time I had a bit more time to read up on the subject before actually making anything and it all turned out much better.
I used a jeweler's saw to make the jump rings and started with silver plated wire in case something didn't go according to plan because I didn't want to ruin all my lovely sterling silver wire.
After the first bracelet was complete I made a couple more and some earrings in byzantine chain and then started on European 4-1. I was convinced this pattern would be easy but I was wrong. It's not that it's a hard patter to understand but if you're not paying enough attention it's easy to place a ring the wrong way and that happened A LOT at first because the whole thing moves in your hands and if you don't know the pattern well yet, it's hard to keep track which way the rings are turned at first. Sometimes you really do have to try something before judging its complexity cause you never know.
In the end, the more I do chain maille, the more I enjoy it. Making the jump rings is a bit boring but it's worth the effort because you create a piece that is entirely handcrafted and you can always make rings the size you need and they never run out. I can't wait to try new patterns and variations and include beads in the pieces I make, for a splash of color.

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